Returning to St. Louis is always an interesting experience for me. I was part of a suburban middle class family, and we basically went from home to school to church to Target and back. We seemed to avoid going to the city center other than for hockey or baseball games. On occasion we would head down to see the Arch, pack ourselves into a tiny pod and slowly make our way to the top. From the top of the arch you can see for miles in all directions, but the history, culture, and beauty of the city were essentially lost on me. St. Louis has a few serious, very real issues, but the city is thriving, especially now, more than I ever realized.
Joe + Ali have been dear, dear friends of ours for about as long as we can remember. The three of us were part of the same church youth group, and from the moment Mindy and I met, she and Ali started forming a bond that has grown stronger over the years. One of our favorite things about visiting Joe + Ali is that we know, not matter what, they're going to lead us to an amazing restaurant. Usually these restaurants are in parts of the city that I never saw growing up, like Rooster in South Grand, or Dressel's Public House in the Central West End. The Shaved Duck in Tower Grove, or Baily's Range downtown. Seriously, if you're a foodie, St. Louis should be on your list.
Coincidentally, today marks their nine year anniversary. In those nine years, they've been through a lot, and it's been amazing to watch their relationship flourish despite some financial hardships, losing jobs, a number of miscarriages and car accidents, and starting a business. They have never lost sight of their love for each other, and even after having four beautiful children, I've seen first hand the way they look at each other. That look may be a little more tired, and a whole lot wiser, but it's not entirely different from the way they looked at each other in high school. They have always remained faithful to one another and to Jesus. Ali has served on the staff of their church, and Joe is a brilliant worship leader. Their marriage has been an encouragement and a blessing to us for years, and we're so excited to share these images.
Here's to you, Joe + Ali, on your anniversary! We pray that God will continue to strengthen your relationship and instill an even more intense desire to follow Him.